Training stress in dogs

For some dogs, training can be stressful and here are a few tips on when you should end a training session.

There are some very obvious signals that your dog will display to indicate he is stressed when you are training him:

  • His tail is tucked under his body.
  • His ears are flat and slightly back.
  • He is showing whale eye (this is when the whites of his eyes show).
  • He is pulling away from you.

Then there are far more subtle signals that he is stressed, and these you need to watch out for, because he is trying to tell you politely that he is uncomfortable with what is going on:

  • When he starts to ‘fool around’; things like trying to bite his lead, rolling over, or sniffing the ground when he has been in the same place for the last 10 minutes.
  • He might also do things that are normal behaviours, but out of context, like:
    • Licking his lips when he hasn’t recently eaten something.
    • Yawning when he is in a class situation and definitely not wanting to go to sleep.

Wendy Wilson, behaviourist

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